Policy for intellectual property rights
This is a translated version of the policy. In the event of ambiguity or disagreement, the Norwegian version of the policy will apply.
OsloMet's task is to conduct research, education, and dissemination for the benefit of society, as well as to ensure society's free and open access to the university's results, in accordance with the Universities and Colleges Act § 1-3 (Universitets- og høyskoleloven). As an educational and research institution, OsloMet has a duty to actively contribute to society's ability to benefit from the university's activities, including commercial exploitation. Cooperation with society requires orderly and professional conduct as the basis for mutual trust.
The policy document at OsloMet aims to secure values related to the work results of employees and students, so that work results created at OsloMet can be used where they are developed and exploited for the benefit of society. It shall guide the university's treatment of results requiring copyright protection and project ideas with commercial potential.
The work on knowledge-based innovation should not happen at the expense of, but should support, education, research, and dissemination.
2. What is covered by the rights policy?
Results created or produced at the university or partly with the university's resources are the property of the university, as long as this does not conflict with others' rights.
All categories of work results are covered by the rights policy, including, but not limited to:
2.1. According to legislation:
- Copyright in a work, pursuant to the Copyright Act §§ 1-3 (Åndsverksloven)
- Patentable inventions, pursuant to the Employee Inventions Act and the Patent Act § 1 (Arbeidstakeroppfinnelsesloven and patentloven)
- Computer programs, pursuant to the Copyright Act § 39 g) (Åndsverksloven)
- Databases, catalogs, etc., pursuant to the Copyright Act § 43 (Åndsverksloven)
- Layout designs of integrated circuits, pursuant to the Act on the Protection of Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits § 4, second paragraph (Lov om vern av kretsmønstre for integrerte kretser)
- Creation of a design, pursuant to the Design Act §§ 1-3 (Designloven)
- Algorithms (methods), pursuant to the Copyright Act (Åndsverksloven)
- Work results that can form the basis for trademark and design registration, pursuant to the Design and Trademark Act. (Design- og varemerkeloven)
2.2. According to agreement:
Other work results, regardless of whether they have commercial potential, and which are the result of OsloMet's investments:
Non-patentable inventions, other technology (technical principles and know-how, trade secrets, practical solutions, scientific and commercial information, business concepts, etc.), any material product (organic, inorganic, and biological material), including substances, organisms, and crops, as well as materials - hereinafter referred to as physical objects, academic publications, and other research and teaching materials that are the result of the employee's work at the university or a specified task assigned to the employee in service.
Regarding waiving of rights to work results:
- OsloMet cannot waive the right to use the results for teaching and research purposes.
- Third parties can be granted licenses.
- In some cases, OsloMet may transfer rights for commercial use, but must retain the right to use for teaching and research purposes and for commercial exploitation "outside the scope of the individual company's business activities".
3. Who is covered by the rights policy?
The university's rights policy covers all employees (including doctoral candidates), independent contractors, students, visiting researchers, and visiting students at the university.
IPR created by students, when they have the status of an employee, such as in a project position or as a research assistant, will be treated as IPR created by an employee.
Intellectual property rights are a collective term for the legal protection of intellectual presentations and characteristics of individuals, goods, and services. These are rights to "non-physical objects" created due to human knowledge and creativity – referred to as IPR (abbreviation for the English term "Intellectual property rights").
IPR is commonly used as an umbrella term for patents, design protection, trademarks, copyright, and trade secrets.
The first three mentioned are legally protected through approval of applications to public authorities, while the last two are protected inherently – partly through legislation and partly through specific behavior from the owner.
Copyright arises when a work is created, while patent rights arise through registration where the right is obtained through application and evaluation of whether the requirements are met.
IPR primarily encompasses legal rules that grant exclusive rights to the results of intellectual and creative activities, as well as trademarks. Both patent law and copyright law provide such exclusive rights.
The intellectual property laws do not provide answers to all issues that arise. Many questions must be resolved based on general contract law. This means that agreements are made between the relevant parties to clarify certain questions.
4.2. Copyrighted Works
A copyrighted work is a result of creative effort, and it refers to literary, scientific, or artistic works of any kind and regardless of expression or form.
Copyright protects the form of the work (e.g., the description of a technical solution/appearance of a device) and not underlying ideas, knowledge, methods, or economic/practical assistance. Protection of a copyrighted work arises with its creation. The work must meet the requirements for originality for it to be protected under copyright rules. This means that the work must be new and original and express an individual creative effort.
Copyright grants exclusive rights to reproduction and public disclosure, with the limitations specified in the Copyright Act. In addition, the creator of the work has moral rights (the right to be attributed and the right to integrity) that the creator cannot waive.
Copyright lasts for the lifetime of the creator and 70 years after the end of their death year.
There are also various agreements that regulate how one can dispose of a copyrighted work created by another person.
Universities have an agreement with Kopinor. The agreement, for example, grants teachers at the university the right to make copies of a certain number of pages within the limits of the agreement and distribute them to their students.
An invention describes a practical solution to a problem, where the solution has technical character, technical effect, is reproducible, and can be industrially exploited (in a broad sense).
The right to control inventions and intellectual works lies with the inventor or the creator of the intellectual work.
The patent legislation sets out the conditions for granting a patent, the legal effects of having a patent granted, the actions that can only be carried out with the consent of the patent holder, and the extent of patent protection.
For an invention to be patentable, it must be capable of industrial application, be new, involve an inventive step, and not fall within subject matter that is excluded from patentability according to the patent law.
To obtain a patent, an application must be made to the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (Patentstyret), which evaluates whether the conditions for obtaining a patent are met. In the patent application, it is important to write in a way that protects what the inventor wants to protect (expert help may be needed).
Granting a patent gives the inventor or the person to whom the inventor has transferred their rights the exclusive right to exploit the invention commercially. This includes production, marketing, sales, use, licensing, and import. The exclusive right does not cover private use, others' research (experiments concerning the invention itself), and in certain cases the compounding of a pharmaceutical at a pharmacy.
Patent rights are essentially prohibitive rights, as no one other than the patent holder can exploit the invention without their consent. However, it should be noted that the grant of a patent itself does not give the patent holder the right to exploit the invention, as there may be other factors that can hinder exploitation – prohibitions under other legislation, the need for special authorization (e.g., pharmaceuticals), or dependence on other patents (e.g., requiring consent from patent holders for exploitation).
The exclusive right does not apply to "experimental use relating to the invention" – investigations aimed at clarifying the workings and effects of the invention, trials aimed at finding new applications, etc. However, the exception does not cover the use of patented substances, instruments, etc. in connection with other experiments.
Patent protection lasts as long as the annual fees are paid, but not longer than 20 years. The patent cannot be repurchased after the expiration date. Society has an interest in ensuring that the patent (technology) does not last longer but becomes available to the general public. The average lifespan of Norwegian patents is about 8 years.
A Norwegian patent only grants exclusive rights to the exploitation of the invention in Norway. Therefore, separate patent applications must be filed in each individual country where protection is desired. To fully protect the invention, the inventor should also seek to protect the product's name (logo) through trademark registration and the product's appearance through design registration.
Only natural persons (not legal entities) can be inventors. The inventor's rights primarily consist of the right to apply for a patent and to seek protection for a trademark and design.
If the invention is made within an employment relationship, it is the employee, not the employer, who is considered the inventor. However, based on the Employee Inventions Act, the employer can acquire the rights to the invention from the employee, including the right to apply for a patent, etc.
The inventor can also voluntarily transfer their rights. However, the right to be identified as the inventor cannot be transferred.
When an employer takes over an invention, the employer becomes the patent holder, while the employee remains the inventor. According to the law, the inventor/employee is entitled to "reasonable compensation."
Students and other collaborators are not covered by the Employee Inventions Act.
Employee Inventions Act regulates the relationship between employee and employer when the employee creates a patentable invention. The outcome may be that OsloMet decides to take over the patent and be a central driver in the commercialization process. OsloMet can also decide not to acquire the rights to the patentable invention.
A patent grants the holder an exclusive right to commercially exploit the invention within the geographical areas covered by the patent. Therefore, researchers and students can freely (with some limitations) use their own and others' patented research results for further non-commercial research.
A trademark is a distinctive sign for goods and/or services that is capable of distinguishing commercial origin and consists of a figure, word, or word combinations (including proper names).
The trademark provides a form of subjective association/feeling that must be linked to something concrete, i.e., the "Goodwill" associated with the trademark in terms of quality and recognizability. Action, form, color, or scent can create this association.
Trademark registration can be refused if it lacks a "guarantee function." The inventor must ensure that other goods cannot be confused with their trademark. The degree of distinctiveness determines the level of protection the trademark will receive. It must also not violate the law or public order, or be likely to cause offense, mislead, etc.
The inventor obtains the exclusive right to commercial exploitation through registration or through establishment of the trademark in the market. In the case of establishment, the owner often has to go to court to prove their rights.
Trademark protection lasts indefinitely.
Trademark registration provides protection throughout Norway, while establishment only provides protection in the geographical area where the establishment has taken place.
With design registration, the inventor does not have to prove that the product is a work of intellectual property. It is the actual product design/appearance that is protected.
It is up to the opposing party to prove that their product is not similar enough to infringe on the inventor's rights.
It can involve decoration, ornamentation, graphic symbols, parts intended to be included in a complex product, or an assembly of objects.
The requirement is that the design must be new and have individual character (does the design give a similar overall impression as other designs or does it clearly distinguish from what already exists?).
The inventor obtains the exclusive right to exploitation, such as manufacturing, exploiting, putting into circulation, importing, etc.
Most things can be protected by design, except for liquid substances, raw materials in their natural state, and ideas. Design rights are also not granted for visual features determined solely by technical function or those that must be reproduced in exact form and dimension to fit another product.
The exclusive right does not prohibit private use, non-commercial exploitation, experimental purposes, or reproduction for the purpose of citation or teaching.
The inventor must apply for design protection within 12 months of publication in Norway. He/she does not have protection under the design law before the application is submitted. During this period, the product is considered new. Publication can occur on the internet, in brochures, at fairs, in the media, or when the product is accessible to the public.
It is not necessary for someone to have actually seen the design, but it is enough that they have had the opportunity to see it. Registration reduces the risk of counterfeiting and plagiarism.
If design protection is also desired abroad, registration must be sought there within 6 months after the design is registered in Norway. It is necessary to check the rules applicable in the country where the product will be sold.
The design registration is valid for 5 years at a time from the date of application. A fee must be paid for each period. The registration can be renewed for a total of twenty-five years. Each period runs from the end of the previous period.
5. Rights to collected data (databases)
It is important to distinguish between the data collected in connection with a survey and the results that emerge from data collection or other creative efforts (results that are developed, discovered, or otherwise produced).
In both cases, rights must be secured through agreements.
It is also important to consider who should have rights to the data collected in a survey (ownership rights/right to exploitation) and who should have rights to the results that emerge from the collected data (ownership rights/right to exploitation). This must be done through agreements prior to the work on the project.
According to Section 24, paragraph 1 of the Copyright Act (new law), creating a database grants certain rights under copyright law. A database can consist of a compilation of a large number of pieces of information. It can be a form, catalog, table, program, or similar work, where the collection, control, or presentation of the content involves a significant investment (effort, money, etc.). The right entails exclusive authority to control all or substantial parts of the database's content through extraction or reuse of the database.
According to Section 41, paragraph 4 of the Copyright Act (new law), the person who has the right to use the database may perform actions necessary to access the database's content and for normal utilization, so that the restriction in the fifth paragraph of this provision ("The provisions of the second, third, and fourth paragraphs cannot be waived by agreement") has no effect, and the right holder can effectively transfer their rights.
This means that in cases where OsloMet wishes to have ownership rights to data collected by an employee/student or the employee/student has rights to components of the content, it is necessary for OsloMet to secure the rights to the use of the database or its components through agreements with its employees/students, as well as any external third parties.
However, the starting point is that OsloMet has ownership rights to databases collected using the university's resources and through the university's activities, as long as this does not conflict with the rights of others.
Employees planning to commercialize databases created based on investments from OsloMet are therefore required to notify the faculty with a copy to the R&D Section, as stated under Rights to Research Results, section 6.1.
Commercialization and handling/distribution of net profit are mentioned under Rights to Research Results, sections 6.3 and 6.4.
6. Rights to research results
6.1. Employees and consultants/contractors
At OsloMet, IPR is partially regulated through employment contracts. Employment contracts should regulate the rights regarding results that are not regulated by existing legislation.
6.1.1 What applies when IPR is not regulated in an employment contract and when should agreements be made?
If IPR is not regulated in an employment contract, the following central legal and/or customary IPR rules apply in employment relationships:
Copyright in general:
the employer acquires the rights to the work that are necessary and reasonable for the employment contract to achieve its purpose. It has generally been assumed that an employer has quite extensive rights to exploit a work created by an employee as part of the employment relationship, meaning that it falls within the employee's duty to create such works.
However, for employees in research and teaching positions at universities and colleges, it has been assumed that different rules apply than for most other employees.
Unlike many other "creators of intellectual works," they are not employed to create works that the employer can benefit from in commercial activities. Their task is to research and disseminate the results of their research, primarily without demanding payment for it. These employees retain the rights to their work, and the employer must enter into an agreement with them if they wish to exploit the work to a greater extent than permitted by copyright law.
An example of such an agreement could be an agreement on the transfer of rights to work results. It grants the university the right to acquire all rights (ownership rights) to work results produced by the employee, and the employee is entitled to compensation from the university.
Another example could be a transfer and confidentiality agreement for employees to be signed for each research project where the university collaborates with external client(s), granting the university all rights (ownership rights) to the results that are developed, discovered, or otherwise produced by the employee or on behalf of the employee during the research project. The copyright to the work therefore belongs to the employee who created it unless otherwise agreed (but they cannot waive their right to attribution and the right to respect when the employer exploits the rights).
Copyright in the form of computer programs specifically:
The copyright to programs created in the course of tasks covered by the employment relationship belongs to the employer unless the employee can provide evidence that another agreement has been made.
The employer has an option to acquire all rights to commercial exploitation, in exchange for fair compensation to the inventor.
However, the rights of the employer are limited when the employer is a university or college and the inventor is a teacher or part of the academic staff. Teachers and academic staff have stronger rights than other employees when it comes to publishing inventions.
The right belongs to the employee unless otherwise agreed.
Integrated circuit topographies:
The exclusive right belongs to the employer unless the employee can provide evidence that another agreement has been made.
Databases, catalogs, and similar works:
The right belongs to the creator of the database. The employer may be the rights holder if the database is a result of the employer's substantial investment in terms of effort, money, and similar resources.
The aforementioned legal provisions provide a simplified overview of the legal situation, so the statutory rights regime must be supplemented and complemented by contracts. In case of doubt, one should consult one of the university's legal experts for additional information and advice. The goal should be to regulate the rights relationship between employer and employee as effectively as possible through individual employment contracts for work results not covered by the above-mentioned legal provisions.
For employees who are already employed, this should be done in the form of an addendum to the employment contract, while for future employees, it should be incorporated into the employment contract. For individuals who are not employees, agreements are entered into in connection with research projects, etc.
Agreements are intended to prevent conflicts between the university's rights and the rights of others. Additionally, such practices at the university demonstrate professionalism that creates trust and orderly relationships both with employees and external collaborators.
If an employee brings foundational material, such as a collection or database, to their employment that will be used as a basis for teaching or research (as project background), this must be regulated in a separate agreement (or in the employment contract) prior to the teaching or research project. The same applies when OsloMet collaborates with external institutions on a research project and multiple parties contribute foundational material (project background).
Each individual owns the project background (IPR) they bring into the research project/bring to a new employer and use as a basis for teaching or research. Recognitions/results that arise from the research project/teaching can increase the level of intellectual property and must be shared between the collaborating partners. This must, therefore, be regulated by agreement, for example, using the Research Council's model for consortium agreement and a simple model for consortium agreement in research projects.
OsloMet's acquisition of rights does not limit the employee's or others' right to utilize the results of their work in further research within the limitations set by patent law and copyright law.
OsloMet recognizes and emphasizes the customary right of scientific employees to create and disseminate their own scientific publications and teaching materials. Therefore, the employee is responsible for ensuring that the scientific work is made available to the public through publications. Publication does not necessarily have to occur in commercial form in printed or electronic books or journals. Open access on the Internet can also be used. Income (royalties) in connection with the publication of scientific publications belong to the author. If OsloMet is to have rights to income in such cases, a separate agreement with the author must be in place. This may be relevant when OsloMet provides resources to the project.
Patenting is not an obstacle to the scientific publication of research results, but to obtain legal protection, a patent application must be submitted before the invention is published or disclosed in any other way.
However, employees have a statutory right to publish. A scientific employee has a unilateral right to publish their research results, even if it could spoil or reduce commercial opportunities. If it concerns an invention and publication is desired, this should be reported at the same time as the invention is reported to the faculty and R&D section.
All employees are obliged, without undue delay, to notify the employer of a project idea with potential for commercialization. According to the Employee Inventions Act, employees are required to report patentable inventions. According to this document, other types of project ideas with potential for commercialization should also be reported. At OsloMet, such reporting should be made to the faculty with a copy to the R&D section, releasing the employee from further obligations. The project idea reporting form should be used.
Disputes between employees and OsloMet regarding matters covered by the Employee Inventions Act can, if not resolved by the parties themselves, be referred to the Mediation Board for Employee Inventions (Section 12 of the Employee Inventions Act).
6.1.2 External-funded research
In projects where OsloMet collaborates with external funder(s), ownership of the research results shall be agreed upon. Research results should be able to be transferred to the external funder(s) who have contributed to financing the project. Publishing arrangements should also be regulated in the agreement.
In contract-funded projects, OsloMet owns the rights to the results and has exclusive rights to commercialize the results unless otherwise agreed. A contract should be established for the contract-funded project. The full or partial transfer of rights to intellectual property shall only occur if it is a direct obligation OsloMet has undertaken with another external third party.
OsloMet will generally not accept or waive in advance any right to commercially exploit research results that have been funded by the public sector.
Any transfer of rights to patenting or other commercial exploitation of research results produced by or with the involvement of university researchers must not prevent the researchers from continuing to use the research results for further research purposes, either during or after the project.
The same applies to artistic development work and objects with potential for design protection (even if the idea is generated by students/other researchers).
In commissioned projects, i.e. projects that OsloMet carries out for full payment from an external funder, a contract shall be established. The funder owns the rights to the results unless otherwise agreed. However, this does not prevent the funder from being approached about the possibilities of collaboration on further research and/or commercialization.
In projects funded by the Norwegian Research Council or the EU, the general rule is that OsloMet, as the contracting party, owns all project results. Different rules apply in special types of projects, especially where multiple contracting parties collaborate in a consortium. In such cases, the project results are typically owned jointly by the contracting parties.
In cases of uncertainty about ownership of the results in specific projects, the relevant contract should always be consulted. The recommended templates for contracts in such projects are the Research Council's model for consortium agreement or a simple model for consortium agreement.
The main principle is that students own the results of their own contribution to a research project or results produced in the execution of a project assignment, unless otherwise agreed, for example, in cases where:
The student's contribution is part of an externally funded project with special provisions. The student has voluntarily transferred their rights to OsloMet. The student's supervisor/teacher has significantly contributed to the idea basis/technical solution of the student's project assignment. In this case, the supervisor/teacher, together with the student, may have rights to, for example, a patentable invention - a joint work. The condition is that the supervisor/teacher has influenced the "design" with their "creative" input. Such exceptions shall be clarified and included in an agreement at the start of the student's contribution to a research project or in the execution of a project assignment.
Students who receive salary for their contribution from OsloMet shall be treated as employees.
In the work and presentation of new research projects or teaching in which students can participate and which may result in a product, OsloMet should be conscious and consider whether it is natural for the supervisor and student to share rights. OsloMet may assume the supervisor's/teacher's rights in accordance with the Employee Inventions Act and/or by agreement. The Employee Inventions Act only applies to patentable inventions, but the invention may still have potential for commercialization.
A transfer and confidentiality agreement for students can be used when the student contributes to an externally funded project. Student agreements can also be used for master's and bachelor's theses in cases where the student collaborates with private or public industry or participates in an already established R&D project or a company project.
Students and teachers should be aware that entering into agreements should be voluntary. The principle of "freedom of study" implies that it should be the student's free choice whether they want to take a mandatory course without an agreement or a student project where rights and obligations are regulated. There should also be a right of return for the student, so that they can take a mandatory course/exam (for example, if the company the student works for goes bankrupt). The quality of a mandatory course should be as good as the work with a student project mentioned above. The student should also have the opportunity to receive an equal grade regardless of the study path.
However, some student projects are so resource-intensive, due to the need for expensive equipment, for example, that it is entirely legitimate for OsloMet to create agreements that grant OsloMet certain rights in relation to the results of the student project. In this case, the student may agree that OsloMet, for example, in later commercialization, receives certain shares of net profit. However, in these cases, the student must be able to choose a less resource-intensive path that does not make it equally legitimate for OsloMet to demand such an agreement with the student. Normally, OsloMet will only reserve the right to use the results and specifications of the submission in teaching and research contexts.
Students are encouraged to submit ideas to the faculty with a copy to the R&D section.
In contrast to students, PhD candidates are employed by OsloMet with the purpose of writing a doctoral thesis. This means that a greater degree of rights transfer for doctoral theses may have to be accepted here than is the case for results a student has contributed to without any compensation. In terms of public accessibility and critiquing, it must be possible to require that PhD candidates, regardless of whether they are employed by the university or not, consent to electronic publishing after the thesis has been accepted for defense.
In situations where an external third party utilizes OsloMet's infrastructure in connection with a student project or where a conflict of interest may arise, one of the university's lawyers should be used/consulted to ensure quality and integrity in the agreements.
PhD candidates should submit ideas on an equal basis with other employees.
6.3. Commercialization of research results
The term commercialization can be defined as research results that form the basis for establishing a company for manufacturing products for sale, or licensing the technology to existing companies.
Commercialization is a complex and costly process, and it is necessary to have or collaborate with a professional apparatus that has the necessary expertise and resources to carry out the commercialization process.
OsloMet has the right, but not the obligation, to transfer an invention to itself. Taking over the rights to an invention also means taking on the responsibility to exploit the rights, with the associated costs. Therefore, it is necessary to assess and select the work results/inventions that are reported and that the university wants to further invest in. OsloMet can only develop projects for which there are resources and that have a real potential for success.
The commercialization process takes place in several phases in collaboration between different actors – from the researcher/academic community and OsloMet, through a commercialization actor, to capital, market introduction, and production.
The commercialization actor will usually take responsibility for the design and submission of applications for relevant IPR protection in the appropriate jurisdictions (typically the countries where protection is desired).
6.4. Distribution of net profit from commercialization
Successful commercialization of research results leads to:
new development projects or commissioned projects for the academic communities, new license agreements and/or establishment of new profitable spin-out companies from OsloMet. Net profit consists of license income and/or profit from the sale of shares, after deduction of direct expenses in the respective commercialization project.
6.4.1 Distribution of income from license agreements
When entering into a license agreement with an existing company, an agreement on the distribution of license income/royalties should be made before the license agreement is entered into.
Inventor: Academic environment: OsloMet: The first NOK 300.000: 1/2 1/4 1/4 Over NOK 300.000 : 1/3 1/3 1/3
If OsloMet chooses not to acquire the exploitation rights to a patentable invention or returns these rights to the inventor(s), and the inventor(s) commercially exploit the invention, OsloMet has the right to be recognized as the originating environment/right to have costs related to R&D and any other work efforts underlying the commercialization covered. This should be clarified/agreed upon when the decision is made that OsloMet will not take over the rights.
6.4.2 Distribution of shares and income from share sales
If the research results are commercialized through a company establishment, OsloMet will either offer the inventor(s) ownership in the new company directly or enter into an agreement that the inventor(s) will receive their share in cash when OsloMet sells its shares. The distribution of shares between entrepreneurs, OsloMet, external investors/industry partners, and (if applicable) the inventor(s) is determined on a case-by-case basis.
6.5. Access to OsloMet premises
If it is academically appropriate for a newly established company to have access to OsloMet's premises, including the use of laboratories and infrastructure, as well as academic exchange with OsloMet's academic community, this must be regulated in separate agreements.
OsloMet is obligated to ensure that any confidentiality agreements entered into for a project are upheld by employees, students, and others involved in the project.
6.7. Further Progress
OsloMet shall facilitate and provide incentives for employees to produce results that OsloMet can acquire for commercial use/commercialization.
- Incentives may include:
- submitting a disclosure form for an idea patenting and licensing establishing a company
- having an idea approved for further development and commercialization